Being a geek can be hard work.
Series typically come with a lot of backstory. Most Star Wars movies famously begin with “the crawl,” a long block of text summing up the story so far. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have plenty of story to choose from: the TV series, the 1992 movie, the comics and novels. White’s (The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, 2018, etc.) contribution includes elements from all the above. If it were made into a film, the crawl would be 10 minutes long. Newcomers may be frightened by the terminology. They may even be confused by a basic plot summary: Nina is both a Watcher and a Slayer. It means—in this case—that Nina is training to be a healer and a killer of monsters. The novel provides two of the main pleasures of the TV show: people facing the end of the world with jokes. The jokes aren’t nearly as clever as the ones on the show, but very few are. The book often spends less time on plot than on characterization, which is wise, because the plot involves specialty tea. (Most characters are relatives of the show’s Watchers—a notably white group.) The ending, however, is a genuine surprise and a brilliant twist.
Even die-hard fans may lose patience with the story, but the surprises at the end more than adequately reward those who did their homework. (Paranormal adventure. 14-adult)